Wickham farm targeted in petrol bomb attack says effects are 'really hitting home'

A PETROL bomb attack on a family farm is ‘really starting to hit home’ months after the incident, the co-owner has said.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 7:46 pm

McCarthy’s farm in Winchester Road, Wickham, saw 150 haylage bales destroyed in a suspected arson attack on June 17 with firefighters tackling the blast for two hours.

As reported, around £5,000 worth of goods were lost in the fire. No one has been caught or charged for the attack as police had no CCTV to go on.

It comes as NFU Mutual said Hampshire farms claimed more than £1m on insurance for fires in 2019. Arson accounted for 40 per cent of farm fire claims across Britain – with £9m claimed in total.

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McCarthy's farm in Winchester Road, Wickham, saw 150 haylage bales destroyed in a suspected arson attack on June 17 with firefighters tackling the blast for two hours. Pictured is: Co-owner of McCarthy's Tracy McCarthy on October 20 after she spoke about the aftermath. Picture: Sarah Standing (201020-6099)

One of the Wickham farm owners, Tracy McCarthy, said: ‘The impact of the fire is really starting to hit home. We are noticing the effect of losing so much hay now because we are running out of food.

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‘The devastation to us is not about the lost money. It’s about losing food to feed (our customers’) animals.’

The farm has since brought in security cameras and lights to avoid a future incident.

A blaze destroyed 150 hay bales at McCarthy's Fruit and Vegetables off Winchester Road near Wickham. Picture: Jo McCarthy

The haylage destroyed in the blaze was due to be sold to horse owners as feed.

The farm grows the hay to order and still needs to find feed to fulfil previous customers’ orders.

Ms McCarthy said: ‘It never used to be this bad but for some reason, farms are now being targeted.’

Overall, farm fires cost Britain £49m last year, a rise of nearly six per cent compared with 2018.

Initial claims figures have risen for January to July and claims in 2020 are set to be the highest in six years, NFU Mutual said.

The rural insurer is urging farmers to check their fire precautions and have emergency plans in place.

Andy Manson, managing director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd, said: ‘Farm fires put the lives of people and livestock at risk as well as having a huge emotional and business impact on farmers and families.’

Police investigated the fire in Wickham as arson. Call police on 101 quoting 44200220169 with any information.

A police spokeswoman said the investigation has been filed. It’s thought this is due to the lack of usable CCTV.

‘Should any further lines of enquiry come to light it will be reopened,’ she added.

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